8 Replies Latest reply on Jun 18, 2009 10:52 AM by Peter Grainge

    .chm file is too large for application

    flytowngal Level 1

      Sorry.  This isn't your typical RoboHelp question.

       

      I have a very large RoboHelp project with about 300 topics and many, many screen captures. Our lead developer has discovered that it would take the customer 3 minutes and 17 seconds to download the application with the help file as part of the build.  For him, that seems like an inordinate amount of time for the customer to have to wait.

       

      Someone said that I could zip the .chm file, but I don't know how that works.  Doesn't the development team still have to unzip it when they do the build?  And someone else suggested doing a download for the app and a separate one for the help file.  If you do that, does the help file still work within the app?  I've also considered removing all of the screen captures, greatly reducing the size of the file.

       

      Does anyone know of other solutions to this problem?

        • 1. Re: .chm file is too large for application
          RoboColum(n) Level 5

          Personally I doubt zipping the CHM would make much difference as if you have the "Optimise CHM File Size" option selected in your SSL the file will already be compressed. You have also highlighted a potential issue where the user has control over where the CHM is unzipped to. Naturally it would have to be in the desired location for the application to find it.

           

          If your developer really thinks three minutes is too long to download the app (and I would suggest packaging the help with the app is the best way forward) you;ll have to look at alternatives. Could you host the help online? It would require application changes though. You could remove some of the screen images, personally I've never been a big fan of them in help files unless they add real value.

           

          Out of interest, how much of the 3 minutes 17 seconds is for the help? What is the CHM file size?

           


          Read the RoboColum(n) for mutterings on RoboHelp, Technical Communication Suite and technical communication.

          • 2. Re: .chm file is too large for application
            lmarden Level 2

            HI Fly.

             

            A few comments and suggestions...

             

            First, 300 topics ain't so large. It really isn't. Unless as you say, you have a huge amount of content in each one. Heck, I wish I had just 300 topics to manage! (Mine is about 4000 strong, and that isn't even the biggest I've heard of....)

             

            In your case the screen captures probably do make up the majority of the build - so do you really need them? If you are bringing users to a help topic from a window in your program, you probably don't need to show them that same window again in the Help.

             

            It's good form and makes your clients much happier to download and install a single package of product and help. Three minutes is NOT, I repeat, NOT a long time to wait, if you can't find a way to reduce the Help file size. Your developer needs to get over himself. We have clients who are perfectly happy to download a file that takes over a half hour if necessary. And sometimes, it just is. And don't get me started on how long it takes to download Adobe software!

             

            If your downloads have to be really sparse to appease the developers, and you can't get rid of screen shots (by the way, if they are bitmap files, try converting them to .gif files - screen shots typically won't lose quality in the conversion and you'll lose significant file size), consider posting larger images in an online library page on your website - and link the URLs into your compiled help.

             

            HTH,

             

            Laurin

            • 3. Re: .chm file is too large for application
              flytowngal Level 1

              Thanks so much Laurin.  All good information. 

               

              Although I've always thought the idea of documentation with no screen captures seems crazy, the idea of having them in a help file the user access while IN the application now seems redundant and unnecessary.  Although all my screen files are .gif, I'm sure that's what is causing the large size of the file and I think removing them is the path I will take.  You, along with many others, reiterated the same opinion about captures in online help.  Thanks for reinforcing my decision.

               

              Glad to hear that 300 topics in the project isn't so large.  This is by far the largest project I've created for an application, but apparently, RH can handle much larger.  That's a relief!

               

              This site is such a great resource of info for those of us who are not technical people nor know RoboHelp inside and out.  Again, many thanks!!

               

              Maggie Prince

              Senior Technical Writer

              The Cincinnati Insurance Companies

              513-870-2000 ext 6112

              maggie_prince@cinfin.com

              "It's never too late to be who you might have been."

              George Eliot

               

              Confidentiality notice: The information included in this e-mail, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient and may contain information that is confidential and protected. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, distribution or similar action is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and delete all copies of the original message immediately.

              • 4. Re: .chm file is too large for application
                flytowngal Level 1

                According to the developer, the size is 24 MB.  I don't know how much of that time was related to the download of help.

                 

                And as most developers here are totally unfamiliar in working with RoboHelp files, they are probably not going to jump in and try to find their own solution or add to their work as we are all under a crunch to get this app out by our deadline.

                 

                I think I've come to the conclusion to just delete the screen captures.  I continue to read opinions (including yours) that don't really see the value in having them in online help.  This is particularly true if we use content-sensitive help when we deploy to our external customers in October.

                 

                Thanks for your help.  As always, you've given me info that I hadn't considered or didn't know!

                 

                 

                Maggie Prince

                Senior Technical Writer

                The Cincinnati Insurance Companies

                513-870-2000 ext 6112

                maggie_prince@cinfin.com

                "It's never too late to be who you might have been."

                George Eliot

                 

                Confidentiality notice: The information included in this e-mail, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient and may contain information that is confidential and protected. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, distribution or similar action is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and delete all copies of the original message immediately.

                • 5. Re: .chm file is too large for application
                  RoboColum(n) Level 5

                  Trust me. 24mb is not that big. The help files for the application I am currently documenting are 23mb - before you even consider the application that accompanies them - and I'm only half way through the exercise!

                   


                  Read the RoboColum(n) for mutterings on RoboHelp, Technical Communication Suite and technical communication.

                  • 6. Re: .chm file is too large for application
                    Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    And now, for a different perspective!

                     

                    Personally, I fall into the rebel camp that likes to be redundant. I favor including screen captures in the help.

                     

                    I hate when a help topic refers to the whatchamacallit on the foozoo screen. As a user, I may not be certain I'm even ON the foozoo screen! So speaking as a user, I love it when I see a nice screen capture that at least tells me I'm on the right screen. Even better if it points out the whatchamacallit.

                     

                    However I dislike when folks capture only the whatchamacallit button or area and show that. For example, the image below:

                     

                    tmp1.png

                     

                    I much prefer something such as:

                     

                    tmp2.png

                     

                    Keep in mind that RoboHelp offers features such as DHTML drop-downs that allow you to keep images hidden until the user chooses to view them. This keeps the page lean and clean if that's your goal.

                     

                    I think my last projects in the corporate world had somewhere along the lines of 40,000 files involved. Images, Topics and whatnot. I was catapulted into unemployment in May, 2004. So 300 topics seems like such a small system.

                     

                    Cheers.. Rick

                     

                     

                    • 7. Re: .chm file is too large for application
                      lmarden Level 2

                      Hi Rick - yup, you have a point. And even though I suggested that the pics get stripped out, I do contain screen shots on DHTML dropdowns on about half of my topics. At the very least, all topics that are screen descriptions (well, ALL my topics, really) include the menu path to the window at the top of the topic. Since we never know how someone will get to a help topic, I find putting the menu path there helps them figure out what they are looking at.

                       

                      For example:

                       

                       

                      Voiding Payroll Checks

                      General Ledger / Check Manager

                      • 8. Re: .chm file is too large for application
                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                        Ask the developer what the time is without your CHM file. When he/she realises the difference, I suspect there will be a deafening silence as the time will be the application.

                         

                        I would strongly recommend you do not include your email address in replies to any forum, unless of course you are needing a new supplier of dodgy pills and suchlike.

                         


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